What? Citizens of Austin, Texas are struggling to cope with the loss of the popular ride-sharing service, Uber. The city imposed such stringent regulations on the company that it ceased operations in Austin. Now, some former Uber drivers and users are operating on an ad hoc, completely unregulated basis, using social media sites to organize shared rides. There are reports of dishonest and even dangerous drivers. Nonetheless, Austin residents continue to seek out these informal ride shares because there are few alternatives.
So what? The aftermath of Uber's withdrawal from Austin illustrates that the sharing economy cannot simply be regulated away. Austin’s example also suggests that strict regulation of the sharing economy can significantly lower city residents' quality of life. Uber filled a void by creating the city’s poor public transportation and undersized taxi fleets. For example, during the period Uber operated in the city, Austin experienced a lower incidence of impaired driving. There's now evidence that the incidence of impaired driving in the city is returning to pre-Uber levels.
Source: Vocative – ‘A World Without Uber: Dispatches From Austin’